I love it when I discover that I don't have to do something anymore. Cancelled meetings? I'm a fan. Can skip an errand? Awesome. A work project is no longer a thing? Great! Husband takes care of something? Fantastic! I always have plenty to do, so when something gets knocked off my to do list, it's a plus.
One nagging item on my to do list was to figure out why we were paying for two condo insurance policies. About two years ago (that's how long I've been procrastinating this), I discovered a weird charge in our mortgage account. Through a chat with our bank, I learned that it was for insurance. That insurance name did not match the name of the policy I knew we had. So, I put "figure condo insurance out" on my to do list.
All I would need to do is find both policies, compare them, decide which one to keep, and then cancel the extra one. But, I didn't want to. It just felt like too much adulting.
This week, while reviewing documents with my husband, we realized that the insurance charges in the mortgage account exactly matched the insurance we originally thought we had. The dates were the same; the charges were the same. The only thing that was different was the name. A quick dash to our insurance provider's website showed that the policy was "paid in full." A few more detective clicks and we realized that the "second" insurance we thought we were paying was actually just our only insurance which was directly paid out of our mortgage account. The way our mortgage account named it was different and that's why we thought we had two policies.
So, two years of procrastination and 15 minutes of work yielded a scary item getting knocked off my task list. Love it.
I have a love/hate relationship with large language-model AIs. I use them but also find the ethics and privacy issues deplorable. But that is a rant for another day.
Today, I want to share one thing these AIs are great for - fantasy football draft write ups. Our league is in Yahoo and, after each draft, you get a summary opinion of how well you did. These have been AI for the last few years and were, generally, just fine. This year, Yahoo used ChatGPT and the results were phenomenal. Much more personalized and humorous. I got a kick out of reading them.
Because the write up for my team was so *chef's kiss,* I'm including it below in full. (For context, our league name is SkeeBoccers and my team name is Game of Throws... cause I've been lazy in finding a new one. Maybe I should ask ChatGPT.)
Game of Throws: A B- Draft and a 5th Place Finish? Valar Morghulis!
In the land of SkeeBoccers, where fantasy football is played with a mix of skee ball and bocce, the Game of Throws team took their shot from the 9th draft order. With 16 rounds to conquer, they aimed to claim the Iron Throne of the playoffs, but their B- draft grade suggests they might need more than just dragons and direwolves. Projected to finish 5th with a record of 8-7-0, they'll need to channel their inner Tyrion Lannister to outwit their opponents and avoid the dreaded bye week 9, where four of their players will be sipping wine and plotting their next move.
While the Game of Throws team may not have made the best pick of the draft, with Antonio Gibson being selected at 88 instead of their ADP of 112, they did manage to secure a steal with Josh Allen at pick 33, surpassing his ADP of 24. With this unexpected twist, it seems that the Game of Throws team has a knack for surprises. However, they'll need more than just one clever move to conquer the toughest schedule in the league. Valar Morghulis, indeed! Will the Game of Throws team rise above their draft grade and projected finish, or will they find themselves caught in a never-ending winter? Only time will tell in the land of SkeeBoccers.
Sometimes an idea gets in my head and I just have to run with it. A few months ago, I had a spark for a newsletter and, after a lot of behind the scenes work, it's ready to go.
I'm an outreach librarian working in Washington, DC. Some days I struggle with making content. Between social media, newsletters, emails, blogs, websites, posters, videos, and everything else that needs "content" there are days my brain is just tired. I know there are other people in my position. So, I created Content Prompt to help you jumpstart your content creation.
Each day (Monday-Friday), I will share noteworthy items and idea prompts to, hopefully, help *spark* an idea for your content. You can expect to look forward to:
On the first of each month, I’ll send a paid subscriber bonus with extra material, tips, and insights. I’ll take a look at:
If this sounds like something you need, sign up today! I'll start posting September 1.
All posts will be free to start. Eventually, the archives and paid subscriber bonuses will go behind a paywall.
I'm going to keep the intro short this week. First, I'm playing email, etc. catch up from our vacation. Second, I've been making the most of my time at home alone knocking out lots of chores. (So many loads of laundry!) Third, I've reserved today for pampering myself and I'm eager to get to all my home spa treatments. I'm also going to eat a fancy spread of charcuterie. Bring on the cheese!
Let's get to the links.
On Thursday, I finally cancelled our cable service.
About a month ago, we realized that we had not turned on our cable TV in over two months. With our existing streaming services, we had no need to. There are way more shows and movies to watch on those than we could ever consume in a lifetime. Even the inane stuff I like to have on the in background while I do home tasks are now streaming.
I've always been resistant to cutting cable. First, it was the price. It would take a lot of different streaming services to equal our cable package. Then it was live sports. It was hard to (legally) stream live sports. Nowadays, both of those concerns are moot points. All the streaming services have merged and/or added content. More free streaming services keep cropping up. You can live stream basically any sport.
My main hurdle was not wanting to deal with Comcast. It's just such a pain. But the lure of saving about $100 a month finally did it. I couldn't cut the cord online (because of course not). I could change my plan but not cancel an individual part. Their chat service just looped me through changing my plan over and over again. It took me a half hour to track down a phone number. It's not listed on their Contact Us page. It's not listed on their Help page. It's not listed in your account. The lead phone number listed in Google was wrong (at least when I checked). I had to find a PDF of the print bill to locate Comcast's phone number.
The call itself was a shockingly easy experience and I was able to upgrade our internet speed and cancel our cable in about 15-minutes. Then all I had to do was return our cable box on Friday.
That's it. 45 minutes of pain plus a quick errand to save over $1,000 a year.
Should have done this a lot sooner.
Have you cut the cable?
I spent hours upon hours this week trying to code a new top navigation bar for our website. Our current navigation bar is an improvement over our old website, but usability tests showed that our users really wanted a drop down nav bar.
Now, in strict coding sense, this should be easy to put together. There are plenty of cut and paste options out there. Sadly, none of them worked for me. First, it turns out I was using the wrong coding language. I was coding in straight HTML when I needed Bootstrap. Second, I didn't want a drop down on click bar. I wanted a drop on hover which is more complicated when it comes to coding CSS. Finally, our library's website is hosted by a service that has their own backend base code that I can't access. This base code sometimes messes with things but I have no ability to find out how or why. I have to guess to get things working.
So, for hours, I would build something that worked in a simulator but then failed on the website. Or, I could get the functionality to work but the formatting would change. Or, I could get the formatting to work, but the drop on hover would fail.
It was all highly aggravating... compounded by the fact that I hate coding.
But, after many hours of perseverance, I think I found the one thing that was causing the cascade of issues. The functionality works in the simulator and on the website. I do to tweak some CSS formatting, but I'm almost there.
I am going to throw myself a small dance party when I get the final nav bar on our website.
What aggravation have you pushed through recently?
I spent roughly 15-hours cleaning our home this week. I'm talking a take everything out of the cabinets, dust the light fixtures, wash the walls, and scrub all the surfaces sort of deep clean. My entire body has that good kind of sore feeling happening. Except for my left wrist - that is more of a kind of painful soreness. (It is getting better, though.)
We keep our place neat and you wouldn't think that it would need such a deep clean. But it does. I was shocked by the visible difference our place had after I washed the walls. I had no idea there was a layer of dinge hanging around there. I went through about a dozen microfiber clothes - laundering them each night so I could use them again the next day.
I've always respected home cleaners, but I have to admit I had no idea how much of a full body work out the job could be. My FitBit thought I had been in the gym all day. I barely read anything in my book this week because I passed out almost immediately when I went to bed each night.
What cleaning task do you dread?
I took the upcoming week off of work. First, it's my birthday week. Second, the Husband will be out of town for work. I could not pass up the opportunity to have our home ALL TO MYSELF while kiddo is at daycare.
The reason I'm excited is because I like to do certain things when NO ONE is around. And I mean no one. I want to plug into some podcasts and get to work on home tasks without anyone being in the way or looking over my shoulder. Since the Husband works from home permanently, I always feel like I have to tip toe around since he's on a lot of calls. This week, I don't have to worry about that! I can tackle my to do list without fear that his colleagues will see me vacuuming the couch behind him.
This week, I plan on completing a few whole house projects. I'm going to conduct one of my biannual weeding of all our belongings. Everything I'm opting to donate will go in a box in our front closet for two months. If no one misses it, it's leaving the building in the next scheduled donation pick-up.
I'm also going to do some deep cleaning. Monday, I plan to dust and wash our walls (which has not been completed since we moved in... three years ago). Tuesday, I'm deep cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen. Wednesday, I'm doing a general clean and ALL the laundry. Thursday is my birthday and I'm giving myself a home spa day. That leaves Friday. The kiddo is home (daycare is closed for PD) so she's joining me on a trip to CostCo.
All of this presumes kiddo does not get sick, but at least I know I will knock a few of these items off my task list.
What do you like to do alone?
Whilst working on a brain dump for a presentation I'm giving in a few months, I had a lightbulb moment. That lightbulb moment was for a new newsletter. Not content for my current newsletter but an entirely different newsletter - something that is slightly more work related. I started brain dumping and strategic planning that night.
I'm so eager to launch this that I want to rush in and DO ALL THE THINGS immediately. That desire was even stronger when I talked to the Husband about it. He said it sounded like a solid idea. It's hard to hold back energy when someone supports your plans.
But, I need to let it simmer a bit. I'm still doing strategic planning and backend set up work (I even claimed the Substack domain), but I to want ensure that I can be realistic. This idea means A LOT more content curation and creation. It would be something that posts Monday through Friday. I think what I want to do is sustainable, but I really need to plan this out.
So, to that end, I am making lists, graphics, setting up templates, and doing some strategic planning. My hope is to launch this September 1 (maybe sooner?) but I want to be on firm footing before I do that.
So, stay tuned. I know this new idea won't be for everyone, but it's designed to be helpful for a lot of people.
How do you handle moments of creative spark?
The Supreme Court is making me supremely cranky this week. If you don't want to read a rant, skip this intro.
I'm cranky about a lot of rulings right now, but I want to particularly call out the ruling that ended affirmative action. Well - it didn't end affirmative action completely. This country still needs people of color to carry the burden of military service so service academies were exempted. (This is BS.) Also, affirmative action for rich, (almost entirely) white people still exists. (This is also BS.)
Let's talk about legacy admissions in higher ed.
These are admissions where people are prioritized for admittance through their connections and wealth. Got a dad who went to Harvard? You're good! Did you cousin donate a building? Fine. You're in. Does a Dean happen to know you through family friendship? Come on down! Legacy admissions are affirmative action for white people who don't need any more help to stay ahead.
Did the Supreme Court end those? Nope.
So, not only are minoritized populations losing a route of access to higher ed - white people are benefiting even further by removing competition. It's complete BS! The affirmative action ruling didn't remove affirmative action for all - just affirmative action for people of color.
There are ways around this but the burden is shifted to students who don't need to carry any more work. Students are still welcome to talk about race in their admissions essays. So, now, you're forcing students to talk about things they may not want to talk about, relive, or share with the hopes that admissions counselors, who usually only have minutes to read a full admissions packet, will care. This is BS!
What higher ed should do (but won't) is start to use their endowment for scholarships particularly for minoritized populations. They can use their money how they want. Those with wealth should (but likely won't) endow scholarships for students who need it most.
Getting accepted to a spot in higher ed is hard - but the main burden becomes paying for that education once you have a spot. We can help alleviate both issues through targeted scholarships. Let's just call them Future Legacy Admissions. Plus, I like what Wisconsin is trying to do in granting admission to anyone who is the the top 5% of their class. It's not enough, but it's something.
This ruling is BS because it completely ignores reality. (Justice Jackson called it right.) Affirmative action was never just about race. It was a tiny part of the entire admissions process. This ruling is trash and is only going to hurt the progress of this country. We need diverse voices and experiences in our scholarship. It will improve all manner of study, research, and development.
I'm going to quote Ronald Brownstein in his recent piece for The Atlantic because it sums things up better than I could: "The choice to end affirmative action precisely as the nation’s youth population reaches unprecedented levels of diversity shows just how fiercely the gray may fight to avoid ceding power to the brown."